Dogs Health

Your dog’s health is important to us.  Below are useful tips for keeping your dog healthy, as well as information on diseases and preventative care for your pet.

Dogs Health

Training Your Puppy

Puppies are extremely impressionable. How you train, play, and behave around your puppy will have long lasting effects.  The training and socialization that he receives in his first 14 weeks will impact him for the rest of his life. You can make him a better pet and prevent many behavior problems by following a few guidelines. These guidelines include, but are not limited to the following:

Establish a routine. Keep your puppy’s meals regularly scheduled to encourage predictable elimination patterns. Take him out frequently (ie. every two hours) during the day and as needed at night. Select one toilet area. Take him to the toilet area five minutes after doing any task (ie. feeding, awakening, riding in a car, greeting new people, or chewing on toys.) Immediately reward him with a food treat and verbal praise when he relieves himself in the appropriate place. Use a verbal command such as “go potty” when you take him to the elimination area. Do not play with your puppy until he does his business.

Read more about training your puppy.

Puppy’s First Vaccination

A veterinarian should give your puppy a thorough physical examination within 48 hours of purchase or adoption to ensure you have acquired a healthy pup. Immunizations should include Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Rabies, Influenza, and Bordatella. A series of vaccinations beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, is required to build the resistance your puppy requires.  After vaccination, he may be sore for the rest of the day. Place him in a warm room, offer food and water, and let him sleep. Do not give aspirin, Tylenol, or any other over the counter anti-inflammatory medication-they can be fatal in young pups!

Read more about puppy’s first vaccination.

Post-Natal Care for Puppies

Very little care is required of the owner for the puppies during the first few weeks after birth. Natural instinct causes the mother to provide for most needs of the offspring. The best advice is to leave the new family alone as much as possible and simply watch for anything you feel might be abnormal.

Ensure that the puppies are nursed within the first six (6) hours following birth. This provides the antibodies that the pups need to fight disease for the first 6-8 weeks of life. These antibodies are
only absorbed during the first few hours after birth.

Read more about post-natal care for puppies.

Dogs Health: Post-Natal Care

Pregnancy and nursing are major stressors to your pet. The following procedures are recommended to ensure the health of both mother and offspring:

  • We recommend a post-birth physical examination and any necessary treatment within 24 hours of delivery. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have at that time.
  • Fresh, clean water should be available at all times.
  • We recommend feeding a premium puppy food to nursing dogs.
  • You should feed your dog as much as she wants while she is nursing.
  • Try to keep the new family in quiet surroundings and avoid commotion for the first two weeks. Excitement causes many of the problems we see in nursing dogs and their puppies. Let your nursing dog exercise as much as she wants.
  • A soft stool is not unusual for a few days after birth.
  • Palpate the breasts and observe nipples daily. Wash with warm water if needed. Schedule an examination if any discoloration of the skin, tenderness, or severe engorgement occurs. Watch for sores on the nipples as the pups begin to get teeth.
  • Schedule and examination if the female has a change of disposition or if nervousness or tremors develop.
  • A bath is recommended for Mom regularly during the nursing period. Daily brushing is important for proper sanitation. Schedule and exam if you begin to see a significant loss of hair, or bald spots.
  • Some weight loss is to be expected, but schedule and exam if the pet becomes thin. Routine fecal examinations should be performed to guard against intestinal parasites, especially those that could be passed on to the puppies.
  • If you decide to spay your pet to avoid future “heat” cycles and pregnancy, it is best to wait at least one week AFTER the puppies are weaned.
  • Expect to see a normal “heat” cycle about six months after the cycle on which your dog was bred.
  • Food quantity should be reduced at weaning to help decrease milk flow. Schedule an exam if the breasts become engorged while weaning the puppies.

Dogs Health: Heartworm Facts

  • Adult Heartworms live in the right side of the heart.
  • They are 6-14 inches long, and several hundred may be present in an infected dog!
  • Heartworms impair blood circulation, resulting in damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Serious damage may occur, even before outward clinical signs are detected by the owner.
  • Advanced signs include difficulty breathing, coughing, tiring easily, listlessness, loss of weight, and fainting.
  • Heartworms are found throughout the United States and Canada.

Mosquitos Spread Heartworms
A dog with heartworm disease cannot infect another dog without the help of a mosquito. Adult heartworms in an infected dog reproduce to form microfilaria. When a mosquito bites an infected dog it ingests these microfilaria and incubates them to an infectious stage that is inoculated into the next animal that the mosquito feeds on. If that animal is a dog, then it will be infected with heartworm disease. It takes 3 to 6 months for adult heartworms to develop in a dog after the bite of an infected mosquito. Heartworms occur in all breeds of dogs: large and small, short-haired and long-haired, inside-dogs and outside-dogs. Heartworms also are known to infect cats. Diagnosis of Heartworms is by a blood test. Treatment is successful when the disease is detected early.

Heartworms can be Prevented!
Heartworm disease IS present in our area. Hundreds of dogs are unnecessarily infected every year in the Chicago-land area. We strongly recommend heartworm prevention (Heartgard®), which also aids in the prevention of other internal parasites. Heartgard® should be given year round. Routine testing for heartworms once each year is suggested for all dogs!

Bordetella Bronchitis Vaccination

Canine coughing originates from many sources. Many pets develop a harsh, deep cough after changes in the environment. This may be associated with vacations away from home, weather changes, boarding in pet kennels, visits to the dog park, or even a visit to the groomer.

When kenneled away from home, many dogs often do a lot of barking which can cause irritation in the throat making it more susceptible to bronchitis. The normal healthy body is very resistant to infection, but changes resulting from any form of stress can lower the body’s resistance to disease allowing bronchitis to develop. There are many causes of bronchitis including allergy, viral, bacterial, and irritation. Many viruses and bacteria can be normal inhabitants of the pet’s body causing no problem until stress lowers resistance. Even though our boarding kennel does everything possible to keep your pet healthy, there are some factors, such as stress, that we simply cannot control. Fortunately, there is a vaccine available for one of the major causes of canine coughing, the so-called “kennel cough”.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a highly contagious bacterium that is one of the major causes of the coughing syndrome. VACCINATION IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all dogs and REQUIRED for all dogs that stay in our facility for any reason.

Vaccination is no guarantee that bronchitis will not develop, as there are many causes, but we can greatly reduce the chance of bronchitis through proper vaccination. Should your pet develop a cough after boarding or a visit to the groomer, please schedule an exam with your veterinarian. We do everything humanly possible to insure your pet’s environment while away from home is second only to your own home.


Canine Parvovirus is a viral disease of dogs. Parvovirus is capable of causing two different sets of clinical problems. The first to be recognized, and most common, is the intestinal form, which is manifested by diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, fever, and sometimes death. The second syndrome, the cardiac form, occurs in very young pups and is manifested by an acute inflammation of the heart muscle.

Any age, breed or sex of dog can be infected with Parvovirus, but infection does not automatically mean illness. Several factors such as age, environment, stress, parasites and general health status of each individual dog infected could affect the severity of illness. The degree of illness could range from unapparent to very severe, often resulting in death. The disease is usually more severe in young dogs (less than 6 months of age).

Read more about Parvovirus.

Dogs Health: Dental Hygiene

About 75% of all dental problems serious enough to be seen by a veterinarian, (and almost all teeth lost), are the result of periodontal disease. It is the cause of 95% of all cases of “bad breath”, and affects 80- 85% of dogs and cats over the age of 3. In advanced cases, it results in infected, foul-smelling, loosened teeth; with a massive, unsightly accumulation of tartar. Often there is a loss of appetite due to painful gums. Even signs such as diarrhea, vomiting and irritability may be the result of this disease.

Read more about dental hygiene for dogs.

Managing Your Senior Dogs Health

Optimum health care can add years to your dog’s life as well as substantially decrease your cost of treating medical problems associated with aging. We would make the following recommendations:

Comprehensive Physical Examinations:
Since pets age 5-7 times faster than humans, it can be estimated that one yearly physical examination for a pet is equivalent to one exam every 5-7 years in humans. The exam should include a very detailed medical history along with a “nose to tail” physical examination. In later years, a comprehensive physical examination should be performed at least every 6 months depending on any specific medical problems present in your pet.

Laboratory Screening for Diseases:
Many medical problems can be diagnosed through the use of laboratory diagnostic testing long before clinical signs of disease become evident. Specific recommendations for your dog may include:

  • Heartworm Testing
  • Urinalysis
  • Complete Blood Counts
  • Internal Parasite Examination
  • Blood Chemistry Screening
  • Thyroid Screening

Read more about your senior dogs health.